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The Effect of Training Experience and Leg Dominance on the Prevalence of Asymptomatic Intraarticular Changes of the Knee Joints in Adult Professional Male Soccer Players

  • Bezuglov, Eduard Nikolayevich1, 2, 3
  • Khaitin, Vladimir Yurevich4, 5
  • Lyubushkina, Anastasiya Vladimirovna6
  • Lazarev, Artemii Mikhailovich1
  • Gorinov, Artem Valerievich7
  • Sivakova, Elena Yurevna8
  • Rumiantseva, Elizaveta Ilinichna9
  • Lychagin, Alexey Vladimirovich1
  • 1 Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (Sechenov University), Moscow, Russian Federation , Moscow (Russia)
  • 2 Federal Research and Clinical Center of Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation of Federal Medical Biological Agency, Moscow, Russia , Moscow (Russia)
  • 3 Moscow Witte University, Moscow, Russia , Moscow (Russia)
  • 4 Pavlov First Saint-Petersburg State Medical University, Saint-Petersburg, Russia , Saint-Petersburg (Russia)
  • 5 FC Zenit Saint-Petersburg, Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation , Saint-Petersburg (Russia)
  • 6 «Smart Recovery» Clinic, Moscow, Russian Federation , Moscow (Russia)
  • 7 Clinical Diagnostic Center “Medsi” on Belorusskaya, Moscow, Russian Federation , Moscow (Russia)
  • 8 Federal State Budgetary Institution “Clinical Hospital”, Moscow, Russian Federation , Moscow (Russia)
  • 9 Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russian Federation , Moscow (Russia)
Published Article
Sports Medicine - Open
Springer International Publishing
Publication Date
Apr 19, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s40798-020-00248-9
Springer Nature


BackgroundCurrently, no data is available regarding the association between professional experience or limb dominance and the prevalence of asymptomatic knee joint lesions in adult professional male soccer players.HypothesisThe prevalence of the accumulated changes increases with training experience. This is especially true for the dominant leg, which is involved in a large proportion of the athletes’ movements.Study DesignLevel 2 cross-sectional cohort studyMethodsMRI was used to assess the condition of 94 knee joints in 47 adult professional male soccer players (mean age 25.7 ± 4.6 years, BMI 22.8 ± 1.4). Previous surgery on joints was an exclusion criterion. No football player had knee injuries (including fresh bruises) for at least 3 months before the examination. All the scans were performed using a 1.5T MRI scanner and a slice thickness of 3 mm. The images were blindly analyzed by two experienced radiologists. We analyzed all the three compartments of the knee joint. We consider a chondral lesion already from grade I in modified Noyes and Stabler classification system. To assess the influence of soccer training experience, all players were divided into two groups: group 1 formed from players with less than 20 years of experience and group 2 with more than 20 years of experience.ResultsOne hundred percent of the soccer players had at least one chondral and meniscal lesion.In both legs, the posterior horn of the medial meniscus (95.6%) was the most frequent site of injury. Most of the injuries were classified as grade II injuries (73.3% for the dominant and 75.6% for the non-dominant leg).Experience and age of the athletes significantly increased the probability of subcortical bone lesions. They were significantly positively correlated with the grades of patellar lesions and lesions of the patellar surface of the femur and significantly negatively correlated with the grades of lesions of posterior horn of lateral meniscus and anterior horn of medial meniscus.No statistically significant differences in the prevalence and grades of cartilage and meniscal lesions in the dominant and non-dominant limb were observed.ConclusionSoccer practice is associated with the increased prevalence of asymptomatic chondral and meniscal lesions.The probability of subcortical bone lesions significantly increases with training experience and age. These factors are also positively correlated with the grades of patellar lesions and lesions of the patellar surface of the femur.The prevalence and grade of asymptomatic chondral and meniscal lesions is independent of leg dominance.

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